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Collecting Korok seeds turned Breath of the Wild into a gorgeous hike

Collecting Korok seeds is nice and cozy, actually

An image of a Korok in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is floating in the sky and using a helicopter leaf to hover. It has a face that looks like a broad green leaf.
I love every single one of them.
Image: Nintendo via Polygon
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

I started chasing down all 900 Korok seeds, convinced that it was a fool’s errand. I imagined the process as a Sisyphean task. All I would do was mindlessly collect seed after seed after seed after… seed. I thought collecting them was for sickos and die-hard fans only. However, several weeks into my chase — which still isn’t over — I’m now convinced it’s actually the ideal way to enjoy The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Now hear me out: I’m not saying that people who don’t go after the Korok seeds aren’t “real fans.” Far from it. Collecting seeds is a completely different type of gameplay from the mainline quest and the boss fights that came with it, which were challenging even as a seasoned Zelda fan who loves 3D action-combat games. In contrast to that, collecting the seeds has been a delightful and leisurely way to revisit Breath of the Wild in 2023.

Like any good hero, Link has a few tools at his disposal to take on this particular challenge. You will definitely need Revali’s Gale if you don’t want to spend copious amounts of time climbing. Additionally, I beat all the DLC for the game, so I had some important items like Master Cycle Zero (Link’s tricked-out motorcycle), a Korok mask that shakes when a seed is nearby, and the Travel Medallion, which allows you to place a teleportation waypoint anywhere on the map you’d like. I also, fortunately, had roughly 200 arrows starting out, since you have to play a minigame where you shoot fast-moving balloons to get many of the seeds. But among the tools, the most important resource I used was an online map that saves and tracks my progress.

Kind of like with playing Elden Ring, you need to be ready to laugh first and get frustrated second. It still kind of sucks that you can’t climb well when it’s raining. Some seeds feel like a genuine challenge, while others make it feel like the developers are secretly laughing at you personally, as you bend over backward to earn a single measly Korok seed. For example, in Lurelin Village you need to throw a rock on a roof in order to complete a shape and get a seed. It sounds so plainly simple and easy, but it’s not.

An image of Link in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He is standing in front of a series of rocks shaped like a heart. Image: Nintendo via Polygon

The top of the building is pretty high, so a regular toss won’t cut it. I tried several different methods to get the seed up there. I first cut all the trees down from certain angles in the hopes they would land on the roof and form a bridge (they didn’t). I then tried to use Stasis and basically play rock golf and get one up top (the angles weren’t right). I then tried to use the Stasis method except I would tee up the rock on a stump and fire it from there. I tried every stump but no combination of angles worked for me. I thought about using Octo Balloons but did not have any and didn’t want to go get them for a single Korok seed. (I probably should have, though.) Finally, I walked further away and launched from a hill and went for a long shot rather than a high one. The rock finally landed and I openly cheered from the solitude of my desk.

Seeds that require that level of tinkering with Breath of the Wild’s sandbox elements are fewer and further between. That level of challenge really made me appreciate how chill the vast majority of Korok seed hunting looked, by comparison. For the most part, a lot of seed hunting involved casual meandering and appreciation of the scenery. I would go into a region intending to collect specific seeds, but by the time I got one seed, I’d be close to the next one. I was able to just sort of chain my hunt together.

While playing through the main game questline, there weren’t many landmark names that I remembered. I recalled some locations like Dueling Peaks because of its early relevance in the game, but honestly not much outside the main landmarks like Hyrule Castle, the Temple of Time, Death Mountain, and so on. But as I chased down seeds, I started to really appreciate that the developers named every peak and valley, every creek and meadow. The smallest of meadows might contain shallow puddles of water that reflect the light with a dazzling shimmer. Collecting the Korok seeds illuminated the gorgeous level of detail of the Breath of the Wild’s scenery.

I don’t want to underestimate the sheer amount of time it takes. Even when I listen to audiobooks or podcasts as I play, this grind would be brain-numbing and agonizing if I tried to squeeze it into a tight time frame, or on some sort of deadline. It’s a daunting task, but it’s one that I think the developers want players to succeed in. Once you find a Korok, it’s marked it on the map. So if you get to the end and — Hylia forbid — you are missing a few seeds, you can technically go back through on your map and cross reference the ones you’ve collected (even if that’s a little too administrative for my own taste).

It is easy to argue that the result does not seem to warrant the effort. If you collect all 900 seeds you are rewarded with a golden turd, essentially. It’s actually absurd, but also, that’s what I think is beautiful about chasing the seeds. It’s collecting for collecting’s sake. It’s for people whose brains itch unless they hit that 100-percent complete mark, and those content to meander through the vast and varied terrain of Hyrule. It turns Breath of the Wild into Nintendo’s most stunning walking simulator yet.

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